Persimmons. These are a glorious sight in autumn but more decorative than useful here. Ours is an old astringent variety – mouth-puckeringly so until it is super ripe and then I really only like the jelly-like centre segments. We don’t eat many of them. I tried buying the fruit of the non-astringent recent introductions, which can be eaten at the crisp stage like an apple. I was a little underwhelmed – I preferred apples.
I recently read that persimmon fruit dry well and even the astringent types can be picked before fully ripe, sliced and dried and they will lose their astringency. Truly, we were very sceptical. But it works. It really does. The first batch I sliced, skin and all, and dried on a rack over our woodburner. It was a bit hot for them and the skin was a little tough. This second batch I used a sharp knife to remove the skin – which wasn’t difficult – and then sliced and put in the oven on fan bake at a very low temperature for several hours. They aren’t fully dried so I will store them in small packages in the deep freeze lest they go mouldy in our humid climate.
If you like dried fruit or eat muesli, they will make an excellent addition. I plan on using them as a substitute for dried apricots. They don’t taste the same but they will fill the same role. As with any dried food, they shrivel away to very little. I doubt that my forays into dried persimmons are going to make much of an inroad to our total crop – I won’t be drying hundreds of them and there is a large crop on the tree. But we are always interested in adding variety to our diet and dried persimmons take little effort to utilise a crop that we would otherwise waste.
If you want to know more about persimmons, I wrote about them in a Plant Collector back in 2013.